ITEM NUMBER 128-109-R0705




HB 435 requires the first scholarships to be awarded during the 2006 academic year.� As you know, the 2006 academic year begins in late August or early September for our MUS schools.� When students arrive on campus they must pay typical costs such as tuition, room and board, fees, and so forth.� In order for us to meet the statutory requirement of making 2 equal scholarship installments, the first installment must be made during this August/September time frame.


Financial aid can be quite confusing.� The process usually begins with a student completing a FAFSA.� A federal formula determines if the student qualifies for financial aid.� Typically, students in Montana applying for aid must submit their FAFSA by March or April to have a reasonable chance of receiving grant or scholarship funds when they enter college in the fall (due to a finite amount of state aid).� Schools begin preparing financial aid packages in the spring.� This package or offer of financial aid typically consists of federal grants (like Pell), state grants (such as MHEG), public or private scholarships (like the MUS Honor Scholarship or a Rotary scholarship), state or federal work-study, and student loans.� By May first, most students have selected a school.� Decisions for students who depend upon financial aid to pay for college frequently hinge upon the best financial aid package.� The packaging of aid and acceptance process is very time consuming and must be done in advance of the opening of school for the sake of students who must know where they stand financially.


The Governor�s Postsecondary Scholarship Program (GPSP) creates a unique problem for us, especially this first year.� The advisory council was named the end of June and the funding became available July 1, 2005.� The GPSP also has a list of requirements that will take considerable lead time to accomplish � things like getting lists of non-traditional students, identifying a merit student from each high school, and locating potential students in specific areas of study.� I suspect it will take some type of public campaign or public service announcements to locate non-traditional students.� We�ll need to coordinate with OPI and school counselors to locate merit students.


Recognizing that we are obligated to disburse scholarships for the 2006 academic year, MGSLP, in consultation with our MUS and Tribal financial aid offices, has proposed a scholarship selection philosophy for the first year of the GPSP.� The philosophy isn�t perfect, but will accomplish the core requirements of getting scholarships out to deserving students in the 2006 academic year.� The philosophy utilizes three core concepts:


1.       The GPSP merit scholarship would be awarded to the student next in line to receive a MUS Honor Scholarship.� Since MGSLP administers the MUS Honor Scholarship, we already have lists of meritorious students from each Montana High School.� This works well � except that we lack financial information on these students.� For this group this one time only, we�d suggest making selections without regard to financial need.

2.       For at-large and need-based scholarships, allocate scholarships directly to schools based upon the full time equivalent enrollment (FTE) for each school.

3.       Require financial aid offices to allocate scholarships to incoming freshmen who meet the requirements of the GPSP.


I believe this is the best way to locate eligible students and meet the August/September timeline.� Since financial aid offices have full information on their students, they can locate those students who meet the various criteria of the bill.� This process still creates a hardship on our financial aid offices and they will have to �repackage�, but they are all willing to do the extra work to make sure the GPSP gets disbursed this first year.


This process would only be used the first year.� The advisory council plans to meet in July to begin working on procedures and policies that will be advanced to the Board for approval.� The Board of Regents would be presented with a full list of potential recipients in future years for their approval.� This year�s plan is a one-time process necessitated by the short timeframe and unique requirements of HB 435.